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Amendment 18 calls for reduction in total allowable catches for mackerel fisheries

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is holding a series of 8 public hearings to solicit public comment on an amendment to reduce the total allowable catch (TAC) for both Atlantic group king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. Known as Amendment 18 to the Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, the amendment would also change the commercial trip limits for Spanish mackerel to reflect recent changes in the fishing year. Amendment 18 was changed from a regulatory amendment to a plan amendment in September 2006 to allow more flexibility for alternatives. While the title has changed, the alternatives and information in the plan amendment remain the same.

While both the commercial and recreational mackerel fisheries remain viable in the South Atlantic, the Council is considering a precautionary approach to reduce the current TAC for each fishery based on estimates from the most recent stock assessment data. The Council is also concerned about possible shifts to the king mackerel fishery as other fisheries reach their quotas and close early each year. Several vessels that fish for snapper grouper species also participate in the king mackerel fishery. The Council is concerned that recent regulatory reductions in the snapper grouper fishery may shift additional effort to the mackerel fisheries.

The Council is proposing to reduce the current annual TAC for king mackerel from 10.0 million pounds to 7.1 million pounds, and for Spanish mackerel from 7.04 million pounds to 6.7 million pounds. For the king mackerel fishery, 62.9% is currently allocated to recreational fishermen and 37.1% to commercial fishermen. The reduction in TAC is not expected to have an immediate effect on either sector, with projected landings for 2006/07 falling below the new allocations. However, there is concern by commercial fishermen that the quota reduction will increase the future probability of a closure before the end of the fishing year.

Public hearings for Mackerel Amendment 18 will be held in coastal areas in the southeast, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on March 6, 2007 during the Council's March 5-9, 2007 meeting in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Working jointly with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, Amendment 18 is scheduled for formal approval by both councils in June 2007.

Written comments for Amendment 18 are being accepted by the Council until April 10, 2007. Copies of the public hearing document will be posted on the Council’s web site at www.safmc.net by February 28, 2007 or may be obtained from the Council office. Comments should be addressed to: Bob Mahood, Executive Director, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, Charleston, SC 29405. Email comments to: [email protected].


MACKEREL AMENDMENT 18

PUBLIC HEARINGS

All hearings are scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m.


*March 6, 2007

Jekyll Island Club Hotel

371 Riverview Drive

Jekyll Island, GA 31527

Phone: 912/635-2600

*Please note a correction to the start time of the Jekyll Island, GA hearing

as noted in an earlier post card mailing. ALL hearings begin at 6:00 p.m.


March 12, 2007

Hampton Inn St. Augustine Bch.

430 A1A Beach Blvd.

St. Augustine, FL 32080

Phone: 904/471-4000


March 13, 2007

Hutchinson Island Marriott

555 N.E. Ocean Blvd.

Stuart, FL 34996

Phone: 772/225-3700


March 14, 2007

Sombrero Cay Club Resort

19 Sombrero Blvd.

Marathon, FL 33050

Phone: 305/743-2250


March 19, 2007

Crystal Coast Civic Center

3505 Arendell Street

Morehead City, NC 28557

Phone: 252/247-3883


March 20, 2007

Shell Island Resort

2700 N. Lumina Ave.

Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

Phone: 910/256-8696


March 21, 2007

Baywatch Resort

2701 S. Ocean Blvd.

N. Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

Phone: 843/272-4600


March 27, 2007

Hampton Inn

678 Citadel Haven Drive

Charleston, SC 29414

Phone: 843/573-1200

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional councils, conserves and manages fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and east Florida.
 
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